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In the past couple of weeks the Utah Jazz have gone from being firmly in the play-in tournament race, to having a legitimate shot at a playoff spot, to out of the play-in based on current standings.

The bad news is that as you’re reading this, I cannot definitively tell you where in all of the standings mess the Jazz might end up when the 2022-23 season ends in just two weeks. That’s how tight things are in the Western Conference.

But there are a few key things to look at as the season winds down, the first of which is tiebreakers. The teams the Jazz look like they could most likely (I say most likely because anything could happen) end up tied with at the end of the season are the Lakers, Pelicans, Thunder and Mavericks.

If the Jazz end up tied with one of those teams for one of the play-in spots, it’s important to know which way the chips would fall for the Jazz. There are some of these that we can easily predict or that have already been decided.

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The Jazz swept the Pelicans this season, 3-0, so they have the upper hand on any tiebreaker situation with New Orleans. The Jazz lost their season series against the Mavericks, winning just one out of four games, so Dallas will own that tiebreaker.

We can pretty easily predict what will happen against the Thunder. The Jazz have one more game against OKC this season (April 6) and if the Jazz win that game, they would tie with the Thunder on the head-to-head matchups (2-2). But the Thunder would still own the tiebreaker over the Jazz because of their record against divisional teams this season.

Although the season hasn’t wrapped up, the Jazz only have two more games against divisional foes and that’s not enough to make up the difference between their own and the Thunder’s record against teams in the Northwest Division.

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The Lakers are going to be tricky. The Jazz play them two more times this season (April 4 and April 9) and since the Jazz have two wins against the Lakers already this season, a tiebreaker could come down to the very last game of the year. If the Jazz win on April 4, then it’s not a problem — we would know right then that the Jazz would own the tiebreaker.

But if the Jazz lose to the Lakers on April 4, then the April 9 game would matter a whole lot more. And if the Jazz lose both games, things don’t get any easier to predict. Since neither team is a divisional leader and they aren’t in the same division, the next tie-breaking criteria is the win-loss record against Western Conference teams, and right now, the Jazz and Lakers have the exact same record, 22-24, in that column.

So if this comes down to the Lakers and the Jazz, the very last game of the season could be the one that decides it all.

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This week on ‘Unsalvageable’

Check out “Unsalvageable,” hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster).

This week, the crew talks the return of Jarrell Brantley to the Jazz on a 10-day deal and looks at the wild and weird schedule the Jazz have through the rest of the season.

New episodes come out every week. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you stream podcasts.

Stat of the week

On Saturday, Jazz rookie Walker Kessler scored a career-high 31 points to go with 11 rebounds in a loss to the Sacramento Kings. Kessler leads the league in field goal percentage (72.2%) and is fourth in the NBA in blocks per game (2.3).

From the archives

The Utah Jazz’s lack of top options, Lauri Markkanen’s hand injury and the upcoming schedule
Why I believe the Jazz will make the play-in tournament, and maybe more

Extra points

  • Jazz launch comic themed awards campaigns for Markkanen and Kessler (Deseret News)
  • The Jazz rebuild didn’t start with a full-on tank. It was more of a tank-lite (Deseret News)
  • Ja Morant’s suspension is over but his journey is just beginning (The Ringer)
  • What Joe Ingles said about his return to Utah (Deseret News)

Around the league

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The Dallas Mavericks are in a tailspin and Luka Doncic is facing a one-game suspension.

LeBron James returns for Lakers, delays possible foot surgery.

OKC’s Jalen Williams could be challenging Orlando’s Paolo Banchero for ROY.

Up next

March 27 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Phoenix Suns | AT&T SportsNet
March 29 | 6 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ San Antonio Spurs | AT&T SportsNet
March 31 | 5:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Boston Celtics | AT&T SportsNet
April 2 | 1:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Brooklyn Nets | AT&T SportsNet

Utah Jazz coach Will Hardy reacts from the sideline during game against Sacramento at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on March 20, 2023. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News
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